Issue 8 - Feb 24, 2017
Issue 7 - Feb 17, 2017
  • Audit: Lynda Chin’s abandoned $62 million IBM Watson collaboration didn’t follow standard procedures

    An audit of an abandoned mega-project run by IBM Watson and MD Anderson Cancer Center found that the Houston-based institution skirted the UT System’s procurement regulations as it spent $62.1 million on an ill-fated artificial intelligence system.

  • Is it research or run-of-the-mill IT?

    The UT System report on the Oncology Expert Advisor Project raises questions about classification of development of artificial intelligence systems.

    Are they research or are they IT systems?

  • Guest Editorial

    The AACI Network Care Initiative

    Many cancer center hospital systems are expanding their services across large geographic regions, while cancer care is consolidating around ever enlarging groups.

    Over the next two years, as I serve as president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes, I will be leading an initiative to better define these networks and to develop methods of improving the quality of cancer care administered across individual cancer center networks, with better integration of treatment services, especially those now unique to our centers, into the community.

  • In Brief

    • Salk scientist awarded $500K Swedish prize
    • Prostate Cancer Foundation awards $8.6 million to eight teams
    • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force appoints three new members
    • BTG and Society of Interventional Oncology to explore role of minimally invasive therapies in immuno-oncology
    • Perthera, Hope for Stomach Cancer to provide patient services
    • RPRD Diagnostics, Children’s Minnesota to advance clinical pharmacogenomics
    • Jeffery Kutok named chief scientific officer at Infinity
    • CVS Health earns CEO Cancer Gold Standard accreditation
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Amgen submits Supplemental Biologics License Application for Blincyto
    • Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, BMS reach agreement on Opdivo
    • Immunomedics enters into licensing agreement with Seattle Genetics for Sacituzumab Govitecan
  • Funding Opportunities

    PCRP announces research awards application guidelines

    The Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program is pre-announcing the application process for its funding awards even though due to the current Continuing Resolution, the Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Appropriations bill has not been passed to allow investigators time to plan and develop ideas for submission to the anticipated FY17 funding opportunities.

Issue 6 - Feb 10, 2017
  • MMRF contributes largest disease-specific cancer genome dataset to NCI’s Genomic Data Commons

    It took the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation nearly a decade and over $40 million to create what the foundation describes as the largest disease-specific cancer genome dataset in existence.

    The first installment of the dataset is now posted on NCI’s Genomic Data Commons, which places the information in the public domain, making it available to researchers.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Giusti: The $40 million multiple myeloma dataset will help predict risk and clinical response

    The world’s biggest genomic database on multiple myeloma is being integrated into NCI’s Genomic Data Commons.

    The data on the second most common blood cancer—with genomic information from about 1,400 patients—was compiled by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation through a genome mapping initiative and a $40 million network of clinical trials.

  • Steve Hahn takes over day to day operations at MD Anderson

    Steve Hahn, a radiation oncologist, was named deputy to the president and chief operating officer at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

  • GAO report: FDA underestimated actual cancer risk, clearing 25 versions of morcellators in over 20 years

    The Government Accountability Office Feb. 8 released an analysis of FDA’s failure to detect the health hazards of power morcellation, a once widely used procedure that has been shown to upstage uterine cancers.

  • In Brief

    • International teams win £100 million in Cancer Research UK competition 
    • Horning receives Duane Roth Memorial Award
    • Chang and Moore win Ehrlich-Darmstaedter Prize
    • ESMO to present new award at first annual Immuno-Oncology Congress
    • Jupiter Medical Center to use IBM Watson for Oncology technology
    • Fox Chase, Temple earn accreditation for BMT program
    • Cota, Hackensack integrate patient data into Epic EHR system
    • NCCN creates Quick Guide for patients with Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA approves Opdivo for urothelial carcinoma indication
    • GenomeDx, Astellas work to identify genomic drivers of Xtandi response
Issue 5 - Feb 3, 2017
  • Soon-Shiong drops “MoonShot” trademark, but MD Anderson suit remains unresolved

    Overnight, cancer pharmaceuticals billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong stopped using the trademark “MoonShot” to describe his health initiatives, opting instead to use the less grabby, but equally ambitious, name “cancer breakthroughs.”

  • Soon-Shiong’s journey from “Rocket Ship” to “MoonShot”—with lots of confusion

    The MD Anderson complaint against Patrick Soon-Shiong and his business entities, filed Nov. 30, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, argues that the controversial billionaire’s use of the moonshot trademark created confusion that affected both MD Anderson and the White House initiative headed by then Vice President Joe Biden.

  • Cancer groups: Trump travel ban could “retard scientific progress and adversely affect public health”

    President Donald Trump’s recent executive order that temporarily bars travel from seven Muslim-majority countries to the United States will negatively affect research institutions, public health, and innovation, cancer organizations say.

  • Obituary

    LeMaistre, a pioneer of cancer prevention and former MD Anderson president, dies at 92

     

    Charles Aubrey “Mickey” LeMaistre, a former president of MD Anderson Cancer and a pioneer of cancer prevention, died Jan. 27. He was 92.

  • In Brief

    • Keith Flaherty named editor-in-chief of AACR journal Clinical Cancer Research
    • Gottschalk named chair of bone marrow transplantation, cellular therapy at St. Jude
    • Guttridge named associate director for basic research at Ohio State
    • Heath named associate director for translational sciences at Karmanos
    • Howell joins Fox Chase Department of Radiation Oncology
    • NCCN establishes second policy and advocacy fellowship
  • Drugs & Targets

    • MD Anderson, Guardant form partnership to make liquid biopsy standard of care
    • Indivumed to provide tissue samples to Regeneron
    • Addario institute and Scancell form partnership focused on vaccine
    • Perthera enters collaboration with Novartis to identify patients for clinical trials
    • Benitec, Nant Capital initiate head and neck cancer programs
    • GenomeDx joins Astellas in genomic profiling collaboration
  • Funding Opportunities

    SU2C to fund Dream Teams focused on “cancer interception” in pancreas and lungs

    Stand Up To Cancer broke new ground today when the American Association for Cancer Research, its scientific partner, announced to the cancer research community funding to support new Dream Teams focused on “cancer interception” of the pancreas and lungs.

Issue 4 - Jan 27, 2017
  • How a “cool” trial in rare cancers was born

    About a year ago, Sandip Patel, a young doctor who had just joined the faculty at University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center, stopped by to see his mentor, Razelle Kurzrock, chair of the SWOG Early Therapeutics and Rare Cancers Committee.

  • MD Anderson posts $169 million loss for first four months of fiscal 2017

    MD Anderson Cancer Center lost $58 million during the month of December 2016.

    This latest operating loss brings total losses $169.4 million for the first four months of fiscal 2017, which began on Sept. 1, 2016.

  • In Brief

    • Miami Cancer Institute Opens, joins MSKCC Alliance
    • LUNGevity, CancerCare launch helpline
    • White paper shows challenges, progress in immunotherapy
    • Study finds undisclosed conflicts in Twitter posts by oncologists
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA approves first drug for marginal zone lymphoma
    • Merck, Domain Therapeutics collaborate in immune-oncology
Issue 3 - Jan 20, 2017
  • “Will I still have coverage?” patients ask oncologists as Republicans move to gut Affordable Care Act

    As Congress lays down the groundwork for dismantling the Affordable Care Act, doctors across America are hearing cancer patients speak of their fear of losing access to care if the law known as “Obamacare” is jettisoned without replacement.

  • FDA forms Oncology Center of Excellence, names Richard Pazdur director

    On his last full day as FDA commissioner, Robert Califf announced the formation of the Oncology Center of Excellence and named Richard Pazdur its director.

    The process of forming the center began in June, and Pazdur has been the acting director. Reorganization of the FDA oncology portfolio is an element of the Obama White House Moonshot Initiative.

  • Guest Editorial

    NCI formulary, moonshot and public-private partnerships

    Announcing the NCI Formulary, the Jan. 13 issue of The Cancer Letter includes comments suggesting the road to new therapies will now get “easier” and other comments indicated that industry and/or NCI collaborators will “not provide support other than drug access”.

  • In Brief

    • Richard Goldberg new director of West Virginia University Cancer Institute
    • Justin Klamerus named president of Karmanos Cancer Hospital
    • Werner-Wasik new executive vice chair, radiation oncology integration at Jefferson
    • Northwell Health partners with Indivumed to create cancer research biobank
    • Tempus and University Hospitals/Seidman announce effort to customize treatment
    • Reporting of lung cancer surgery outcomes provides info about quality of care
  • Drugs & Targets

    • Medicinal product designation for TB-403 for medulloblastoma
  • Funding Opportunities

    LUNGevity issues RFA for career development award

    LUNGevity announced a request for applications for translational research for career development awards that will be granted in 2017.

Issue 2 - Jan 13, 2017
  • NCI develops a “formulary” to make it easier for cancer centers to test drug combinations

    With a simplified tech transfer agreement, six industry partners and 15 compounds (but no dedicated research funds), NCI challenges investigators to think creatively.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Simon: The moonshot will continue, but the electronic health record industry must step up

    The National Cancer Moonshot Initiative was created by a memorandum issued by President Barack Obama.

    The wide-ranging public health initiative will cease to exist on Jan. 20—eight days short of a year after it was created—when the keys to the White House are handed over to Donald Trump.

  • In Brief

    • Sakaguchi, Ramsdell, Rudensky win Crafoord Prize for discoveries in immune regulation
    • Gustavo Leone named director of  MUSC Hollings Cancer Center
    • Levine Cancer Institute is first to earn top designation for patient-centered care
    • Martin Edelman joins Fox Chase as hematology/oncology chair
    • Diane Simeone to lead pancreatic cancer center at NYU Langone
    • Mario Contreraz named administrator of IU cancer center clinical trials office
    • Columbia, NewYork-Presbyterian and Life Raft form GIST research partnership
    • NCCN publishes patient education resources for gliomas
    • NIHCM Foundation awards $345K in investigator-initiated research grants
    • LUNGevity Foundation introduces mobile app to help patients manage lung cancer
    • NPR station broadcasts anniversary program on moonshot
    • Goldberg novel is finalist in Jewish Book award
  • Drugs & Targets

    • Merck joins ORIEN
    • Scripps to collaborate with Pfizer to advance DNA-encoded library technology
    • AbbVie announces four new global research collaborations
    • Lilly and Merck expand immuno-oncology collaboration
    • Amgen and Immatics collaborate to develop cancer immunotherapies
    • Philips and Illumina to co-develop integrated genomics solutions for oncology
    • Tecentriq receives priority review for treatment of urothelial carcinoma
    • EMD Serono and MD Anderson enter three-year collaboration
    • MD Anderson and Deerfield Management create company to inhibit autophagy
    • Cologuard earns positive review from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
    • FDA accepts BLA for Mylan and Biocon’s biosimilar Trastuzumab
    • FDA releases guidance on nonproprietary naming of biologics
Issue 1 - Jan 6, 2017
  • Doug Lowy on the moonshot, NCI’s invigorated agenda

    As administrations change, cancer research stands in an unusually strong position, NCI Acting Director Douglas Lowy said in an interview with The Cancer Letter.

    “We’re very fortunate that both Republicans and Democrats strongly support biomedical research in general, and cancer research in particular,” Lowy said in a wide-ranging interview. “The leadership of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees was responsible for the increase in FY16 for the NIH appropriation.”

  • MD Anderson lays off 900 staff members

    The year got off to a bad start for some employees of MD Anderson
    Cancer Center.

    As part of a cost-cutting measure announced Jan. 5, about 900 of them received layoff notices.

    Television crews crowded the parking garages of the Houston hospital, capturing images of teary-eyed people carrying boxes to their cars.

  • Biden plans to create moonshot nonprofit, may focus on drug prices

    After leaving the White House, Vice President Joe Biden plans to consolidate his work on the Cancer Moonshot into an independent, nonprofit organization, while juggling non-cancer programs at two universities.

    Biden aims to continue work on the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative through a new nonprofit that will not be connected to any cancer center or university, according to sources familiar with Biden’s post-administration goals.

  • Introducing a redesign of  The Cancer Letter

    Dear Reader,

    The Cancer Letter is starting 2017 with something we haven’t done in …
    well, ever.

  • In Brief

    • Chi Van Dang named scientific director of Ludwig Institute
    • Vacirca elected COA president
    • Ruckdeschel heads cancer institute at University of Mississippi Medical Center
    • Cassels retires as chief administrator at Winship
    • ACS names three new members to board
    • Kratzke, O’Regan chosen to leadership roles at Big Ten consortium
    • PCORI approves $42 million in funding for comparative studies on healthcare approaches
  • Drugs & Targets

    • AACR project GENIE releases cancer genomic data set
    • Strata Trial study launched with UNC, Alabama cancer centers
    • Foundation Medicine receives FDA approval as companion diagnostic
    • Ionis gets $28 million from AstraZeneca for new cancer drug
    • MaxCyte, Washington University in St. Louis announce collaboration
    • MD Anderson, Affimed collaborate on immunotherapy combination
    • Gradalis, Mount Sinai announce research alliance
    • Phylogica, Genentech extend agreement
    • Senhwa gets FDA orphan drug designation
    • Oncotype DX included in AJCC staging criteria
  • Funding Opportunities

    Addario foundation, IASLC announce grant

    The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer announced the second annual joint fellowship award to support research on the early detection of lung cancer.

Issue 46 - Dec 16, 2016
  • FDA Finds Lapses in Reporting of Patient Harm, Deaths Resulting from Medical Devices in Hospitals Nationwide

    After a broad survey of reporting standards at hospitals across the U.S., an FDA investigation recently concluded that the vast majority of the 17 institutions inspected did not file timely reports of injuries and deaths caused by medical devices.

    The inspections earlier this year were triggered by public scrutiny of power morcellation, a surgical procedure known to spread undetected uterine cancer via the device’s spinning blades, as well as by reports of infections associated with contaminated duodenoscopes, flexible, lighted tubes that are threaded through the mouth, throat, and stomach into the top of the small intestine.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    FDA: For Hospitals that Significantly Violated Federal Adverse Event Reporting Requirement, No Additional Action Necessary

    In a 17-institution inspection sparked by reports of patient harm and death resulting from power morcellators and contaminated duodenoscopes, FDA found that nearly all hospitals surveyed either failed to report adverse events or didn’t have proper reporting and documentation procedures in place.

  • Hackensack Cancer Center, MSKCC Form Business, Clinical Partnership in New Jersey

    Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Hackensack Meridian Health announced a 10-year partnership deal that, in its initial stages, will involve developing joint standards of care that will be applied across their operations.

  • Obama Signs Cures Act, Funding Biden’s Moonshot and Boosting NIH, NCI, FDA Budgets Over 10 Years

    President Barack Obama Dec. 13 signed the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill that changes regulatory standards at FDA, slates additional research funds for NIH, and authorizes $1.8 million over seven years for Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

  • Editorial

    The Year of the Moonshot

    The moonshot, The Cancer Letter’s biggest area of coverage of 2016, continues into 2017.

    With the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, the cancer moonshot initiative has been authorized at $1.8 billion over seven years. The Cures Act also authorizes $500 million over the next decade for FDA to streamline drug and device approval processes (The Cancer Letter, Dec. 10).

  • In Brief

    • Bertagnolli elected ASCO president
    • CMS abandons Medicare Part B payment experiment
    • Maki joins leadership of Northwell Health and Cold Spring Harbor
    • Neufeld named clinical director, physician-in-chief & EVP at St. Jude
    • Anderson appointed CEO of Genentech
    • Brown gives $30 million to IU immunotherapy center
    • Mulva family donates $75 million to UT Austin, MD Anderson
    • Collins receives FASEB Public Service Award
    • Proton Partners to build new cancer center at Thames Valley Science Park, UK
    • ACCC launches online resource for metastatic breast cancer
  • Drugs & Targets

    • Keytruda becomes first anti-PD-1 therapy to receive a CHMP positive opinion for previously untreated NSCLC
    • Nintedanib receives orphan drug designation for mesothelioma
    • ABTL0812 receives orphan drug designation for Pancreatic Cancer
Issue 45 - Dec 9, 2016
  • DePinho Accepts Responsibility As MD Anderson’s Losses Grow

    Operating losses at MD Anderson Cancer Center ballooned again in October—swelling to $60.9 million on top of September’s $41.5 million.

    Losses for the first two months of fiscal year 2017 add up to $102.4 million, and the institution’s executives are scrambling to cut costs, boost revenues, and shore up faculty morale.

  • Senate Approves 21st Century Cures; CR Slates $300M for NCI and Moonshot

    The Senate approved the 21st Century Cures Act, a wide-ranging bill that authorizes $1.8 billion over seven years for cancer research as well as $500 million over the next decade for FDA to streamline drug and device approval processes.

  • Being an Acting Director, NCI’s Lowy Isn’t Required to Submit Resignation

    Doug Lowy will continue to lead NCI in his role as acting director in 2017 unless president-elect Donald Trump decides to appoint a different, new director.

  • In Brief

    • Drebin appointed chair of surgery at MSKCC
    • Brown named director of Inova Center for Drug Discovery and Development and Targeted Therapeutics
    • Vogelstein to receive the KNAW Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Award
    • Surgeon General issues report on electronic cigarettes
    • Zinner elected chair of American College of Surgeons board of regents
    • Jenkins retires from FDA Office of New Drugs
    • Tempus, Abramson Cancer Center collaborate on immunotherapy
    • Parker Institute, CRI form collaboration on neoantigens
    • AbbVie, Northwestern and Hopkins announce collaborations
    • GW launches the GW Cancer Center
    • St. Jude marathon raises $10 million
    • Coleman named VP of medical affairs at GenomOncology
    • Hesse named president, CEO of CTCA Philadelphia center
    • Hillman, Patti, Weinreb receive ACR Gold Medal
    • UT Health Northeast in Tyler, TX, joins MD Anderson Network
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Avastin plus chemo gets FDA approval for a type of ovarian cancer
    • EC Grants Conditional Approval for AbbVie’s Venclyxto for CLL
    • Amgen and Allergan seek EMA approval of biosimilar bevacizumab
    • Whole genome sequencing center established in Singapore
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